Today many professing Christians are choosing to pursue their faith in Jesus Christ without any serious commitment to or any regular involvement in His church. “You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian” has become an increasingly common theme, especially among younger generations.
The problem is that, while this view is rapidly becoming the prevailing wisdom of our age, it represents a false and destructive viewpoint that ignores the clear message of the Bible, as well as two thousand years of church history. So, if you’re one of those honest inquirers who sincerely wonders “Why church?,” we want to take the time to answer that question.
The short answer to the question “Why church?” is “because the Bible says so.” The writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews famously instructs believers, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing” (Hebrews 10:25a). If you believe – as we do – that the Bible is God’s authoritative instruction book for life, then this simple statement really should settle the matter.
But, if you also believe – as we also do – that God is not capricious and that His instructions to us are always for our best, then there remains a deeper answer to the question. Yes, the Bible tells us to meet together regularly with other believers and, yes, it provides enough examples to make it clear that weekly (and often even more frequent) church gatherings were the New Testament norm. But the question remains, “Why?”
The next shortest answer to the question “Why church?” is “because we need it.”God is, among many other things, our Creator. And, like it or not, God has made each of us to function in community. The truth is we are a needy people. We need God and we need one another; and these needs are inescapable because they exist by God’s design. Even the most casual look through the New Testament leads to this undeniable conclusion.
Life is hard. Nobody should try to pull it off alone. In fact, trying to function in life alone was the very first thing God ever said was “not good” (Genesis 2:18). God didn’t say it wasn’t good to be single; He said it wasn’t good to be alone, independent, functioning without human help and companionship and encouragement and accountability. By God’s design, life was always intended to include meaningful human fellowship and cooperation. And the Christian life is no different.
When people are baptized in the name of Jesus, they enter into communion with both Jesus and His church. We become children of God and members of His family, inextricably linked to His other sons and daughters. And, like the perfect Parent He is, God wants his children to get along, living and working and hanging out together.
God doesn’t just want you to goto church – He wants you to become church. God wants you to join your life meaningfully and intentionally with other Christians in a local church fellowship in order to learn together how to become the people God called you and created you to be. At Resurrection Church, we say God has called us to bow down, grow up, and reach out in His name; and we believe that can only happen in its fullest sense as we work at it together with like-minded followers of Jesus. The truly Christian life must include both the personal (the “me”) and the corporate (the “we”). Anything else is a violation of God’s plan and is out of step with the New Testament pattern.
For a fuller explanation of some of the reasons we gather at church each week for corporate worship, you might want to listen to Pastor Billy’s message entitled “Worship, Part III: Restoring Corporateness.”